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Crocker Riverside 5th Graders, 1997-1998

In 1997, Suzanne Womack, a fifth-grade teacher at Crocker Riverside Elementary, asked her biologist friend, Eva Butler, for ideas for a project that her students could enter in the Disney Environmentality Challenge. With Mather Field as an educational resource and a living laboratory, Eva introduced the class to the life in vernal pools.

The students developed a deep appreciation for vernal pools. They passed on their new-found knowledge to other students, politicians, and the public through displays, letters and field tours. They turned their classroom into a vernal pool education center for a day, to share their knowledge with other classes through fun, educational games such as Fishing for Facts, Vernal Pool Twister, and Mine the Cookie.

They weighed in on a mining proposal that threatened hundreds of vernal pools at Mather Field by speaking to the press and writing letters to their County Supervisors. On March 31, 1998, at the invitation of Supervisor Illa Collin, they took the city bus downtown and appeared in the chambers of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Here they spoke their truth clearly and respectfully, urging the board to weigh the future of vernal pools against the benefits of gravel mining. Click below to watch a video of the students’ presentations.

They won a cash prize for their entry in the 1998 Environmentality Challenge. Some of the money bought a pizza party to celebrate. The rest was used to send a photographer up in a helicopter to take aerial photos of the vernal pools of Mather Field. These photos are still used today to portray the pools from this unique perspective.

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